Entries Tagged 'County Commission' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council Tidbits, 7/28/2015

There is only three fun meetings this week (excluding the regular meeting);

• 3 PM Land Use meeting, finally an update on the Billboard Ordinance changes.

• 4 PM Informational, Indoor Aquatic Center Update, whatever that is.

• 5 PM, Joint City Council/Minnehaha County Meeting, FEMA Map update, complete with 100 new homes in the flood plain in Northeastern Sioux Falls.

Another SD lawmaker craps in the Marital Bed of governing

Yup, these are the kind of people that serve as county commissioners in our state, and you thought Dick Kelly said outrageous things;

Meade County Commissioner Alan Aker

Government Official · 216 Likes

· June 26 at 10:08am ·

I was just notified by the county’s insurer that in light of the final federal court (Sorry to say, they’ve lost their “Supreme” title as far as I’m concerned. Of course, they’re no longer a court either, but I’m at a loss on what to call them.) decision on gay marriage, the county may be liable for its own costs if our register of deeds does not allow filing of same-sex marriages. Our register of deeds is an independent official and she will decide whether to obey our robed “legislators”. I expect she will. A word to any readers who are celebrating this news: I wouldn’t spike the ball just yet. You haven’t gained marriage “equality”, I predict you have ended marriage as a civil institution. One by one, states will remove it from statutes. It will be an exclusively religious institution. For awhile, some of our churches will refuse to perform same-sex marriages, and get away with it. Since liberals never stop, they’ll use courts to strip these churches of their tax-exempt statuses. These churches will be blessed and will thrive anyway. On the bright side, the federal income tax marriage penalty will disappear as it becomes impossible to determine who is married, since it will vary according to which churches we belong to. On the downside, among the non-religious, spouses will devolve to easily-discarded roommate-sex partners. Children will suffer abuse and abandonment in the ever-changing domestic arrangements. May the Holy Spirit do a new work among us and help us heal these new victims, and help us in a reconstruction of this wreckage.

Not sure if I want to even pick this apart? God help us all! Believe it or not though, I have never believed in marriage in the legal sense. I have often thought of marriage as a ‘spiritual bond’ whether you have a religion or not. I do however believe if you have children (Straight or Gay couples) there has to be some kind of legal precedent, I also think there needs to be some kind of legal agreement between couples that don’t have children, but share all the other aspects of married life (just not the rings). I think what people are missing the most about the gay marriage issue is it is about ‘equality’ and as long as straight couples can get legally married, then gay couples should be able to. It’s really that simple.

Does appointed Minnehaha County Commissioner Jean Bender know what a farm is?

I warned certain people with the county that Jean’s inexperience with the rural aspects of serving as a commissioner would probably not make her the most qualified for the job and her extreme conflict of interest with having one of the largest developers in Sioux Falls and the county as a husband. But of course, the county commission took a different route, kept the selection process extremely secretive and hand-picked (another) attorney for the commission.

What concerns me is that the commission doesn’t have one single person on it that understands rural issues, I think the only one that lives outside of Sioux Falls is Cindy, and she is an attorney. Barth is a retired union lineman, Beninga, who runs Active Generations, I believe is an accountant, an attorney, a former nurse, and Dick Kelly, a retired house and land salesman that spends a good deal of his time outside of Minnehaha county at his vacation residence (ironically he probably has the most experience with rural living – just not in Minnehaha County).

Recently Commissioner Bender went on a bender about the proposed CAFO’s, she seemed to be upset that someone didn’t bring computer renderings of their proposed site. But that wasn’t even a part of the proposal. The landowners were looking for the permission from the county to go ahead and take the next step of actually planning the CAFO’s. Their arguments were fair, why spend the money on expensive computer renderings and blueprints if the county isn’t going to give them permission to begin with to start the planning process (CUP) (They have to come back to the commission with the building plans before dirt can be moved). Bender wasn’t having it, she voted against the CUPs because of ‘napkin’ drawings continually changing (which was due to the neighbors and county attorney) and claiming the applicants were disorganized. While I could partially agree, it was evident they weren’t members of the toastmasters, they knew exactly where they wanted to build their CAFO’s (on their land) and they also knew how many cattle they wanted to operate with. They really didn’t need to tell Bender anything else. For that matter, they could have gotten out an Etch & Sketch and handed her that – it didn’t change the location of their farms or the size of the operations.

All she proved is that she doesn’t understand that in rural Minnehaha County there are farms, and some of those farms have cows, and some of those cows poop, and on occasion, that poop stinks (some of it). She also doesn’t get the fact that when a farmer may build a structure for themselves they don’t come to town and hire an expensive architect to draw up plans for a pole barn (just the city of Sioux Falls does foolish things like that). They get out a tape measure and a level and figure it out in their heads (believe it or not, farmers are good at math). She seems to be more concerned about where her husband may be planning his next big annexation/and housing development (that doesn’t have to breath in the evil smells of a farm) then she is about encouraging ag growth in the county.

I highly suggest a well respected farmer in the county runs against Bender in 2016 and send her packing back to the non-transparent, big-city appointment, computer rendering world she came from, and she can go back to using napkins for what they were intended for, writing down grocery lists, dirty jokes and keeping your martini glass from sticking to the bar.

 

The Minnehaha County Commission approves Med-Star over Paramedics Plus today for paramedic service

I don’t know a lot of details at this point, but I do know their contract was approved 5-0 by the Commission and two of the main factors for approval was quality of services and response times.

Election Review Commission Final Report

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Transcript (DOC: MCRC Commission Report by Danielson)

 

 

The Sun may shine a lot in Sioux Falls, but dark clouds loom over our government offices

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It’s Sunshine Week, or at least that’s what our local newspaper is telling us. They have been having fun setting up ‘scenarios’ when it comes to closed government in our state and city, but scenarios are not necessary, our closed government is all around us and not something to pretend about;

City of Sioux Falls

– The city council and public still have not received a contractor list of who built the Events Center. The council has been asking directors and the mayor for this list for almost two years.

– The Event Center siding consultant report has still not been released to the public or the council. In fact we have been told very little with the year deadline for a resolution looming in August. Officials with SMG and the city building department have said that the building is ‘water tight’ and the bent up siding makes the building look ‘interesting’. What will be ‘interesting’ is to see who will pay to fix the mess.

– Nobody is quite sure how many developers have been denied TIF applications (by the mayor’s office) over the past 27 months. Speaking of TIF’s one wonders if the mayor is picking winners and losers based on his personal investments with developers? Good luck finding out, the mayor doesn’t have to disclose his development investments with the public.

-The city council was asked to vote on the ambulance contract without seeing the scoring procedures or criteria and essentially created a monopoly in the city limits with little transparency in the process.

-We have NO idea what is going on with the RR relocation project, a project that will potentially cost Federal taxpayers $30 million dollars.

-While a proposed indoor aquatic center gets smaller and gets more expensive there has been no word as to why and where all the amentities promised before the election disappeared to AND we still don’t have and MOU on the Quit Claim deed from the VA, but the city attorney says he is ‘working on it’.

Minnehaha County Commission

-Besides the fact the appointment process for John Pekas’ replacement was behind closed doors, the appointee comes into question, Jean Bender, wife of major Sioux Falls developer, Michael Bender, and conflicts of interest. Especially after the joint city council and commission recently denied a CUP for a solar development farm that Mr. Bender and his group were appealing. Jean was not in attendance to the meeting, but one wonders about future zoning issues concerning her husband’s business? This isn’t like a county sheriff’s wife is running a city owned café, there is a heckuva a lot more at stake here then ice cream cones and turkey wraps.

Sioux Falls School Board

-Now that they have the future Superintendent list down to six finalists, the public still is not able to vet the finalists in a public forum. This coming from a school board that only listens to the public when a referendum is threatening them or if they are getting death threats. And even with the looming election they are skating on thin ice with state election law by promoting opposition to the late start date using teachers and administrative staff during business and school hours which is against state campaign laws.

As you can see from these ‘few’ examples, there is no reason to setup scenarios of the lack of transparency. It’s very dark in Sioux Falls, and the sun isn’t coming out anytime soon and neither is the truth.

Minnehaha County Commission application process

I started thinking about this the other day, and not to beat a dead horse, but I noticed that my rejection letter I received for my attempt at being on the county commission was signed by the chair.

letter-rejection-sig

So I wondered, if the county commission didn’t have a part in picking the five finalists, how is it that the chair was privy to the 29 applicants, apparently she knew who they all were (which is fine) because she signed the rejection letters.

My point is, if the commissioners (and another commissioner confessed to me that they did know who all the applicants were) were privy to ALL of the applicants, why wasn’t the public?

We can cry all we want about running transparent and accurate elections in the county, but when we appoint someone, that process should be transparent also.

 

Rumblings about joint County/Council meeting

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There has been some discussion about whether the denial of the solar farm CUP permit last week during the Minnehaha County & Sioux Falls city council joint meeting was even legal? Why? Some motions were not voted on.

Not sure what will be done, but will be interesting to watch.

Where was City Councilor Huether last night?

I’m not the only one asking the question. Several public officials asked me if I had any insight :) Besides Mike, Commissioner Bender was the only one that was not present with the two boards. Jean had a conflict of interest because her husband’s company has an appeal pending with the solar farm land, or something like that, ironically something I warned the Commission about when they were considering her for the commission, but hey, what do I know, I’m just a cranky blogger.

The mayor often calls himself a city councilor, and he should be available for tie-break votes. So why was he a no-show? Did he have a conflict of interest also? Bender fessed up with her conflict, will the mayor?

Appalling Lack of Transparency in Local Government lately

I know what you are thinking, not any more than usual in South Dakota, which really doesn’t have that many laws protecting the citizen’s right to information, heck, and even if government is found doing something wrong our recourse with ethics law is non-existent.

So that best I CAN do is point out the latest assault on South Dakota Democracy and lack of transparency;

STATE LEGISLATURE

SB166 was ‘tabled’ after Sen. Corey Brown ‘claimed’ people were cursing at pages. I guess my question is “Why were they answering your phone anyway?” But the worst part about the situation was that several people showed up last Friday and sat through hours of pointless testimony so they could speak about the bill. But Senator Brown didn’t allow it, he felt there wouldn’t be an ‘intellectual’ conversation about it. Yeah, the two main opponents of the bill who showed up to testify were former state legislator and current Minnehaha County Treasurer Pam Nelson and Sioux Falls Petition Queen, Theresa Stehly. I have a feeling Brown feared an ‘intellectual’ conversation. (Bob Mercer wrote and interesting article about the I & R process: I&R History – Bob Mercer

SF SCHOOL BOARD

I really think they strive at looking more ridiculous by the day. For years parents and teachers have tried to work with administration and school board members on a school start date and have been IGNORED. Now all of sudden after thousands of signatures have been collected and the measure being put on the ballot, the school board wants to ‘compromise’.

This isn’t the first time the school board has pulled this (sick leave graduation, pledge of allegiance and substitute teacher pay come to mind).

You look foolish, childish, hypocritical, out of touch and quite ignorant. Morrison’s comment today in the Argus Leader says it all when he exclaims, “It isn’t transparent enough, apparently.” You think? DUUUUUHHHHHG?!

Let voters decide in April because after wasting 5 years of their time trying to work with your body they have decided it is easier to collect 6,000 signatures and have an election.

MINNEHAHA COUNTY COMMISSION

After 29 applicants come forward to apply for the empty commission seat to be appointed, the county administrators (non-elected) picked the five finalists (for the commission) and shred the applications. Then the county commission picks (in private) the appointee and votes for them in a poorly publicized public meeting where no questions from the public were asked. It was the worst display of closed government I have seen with the county in years. If I was Commissioner Bender I would be embarrassed of how I was chosen.

SIOUX FALLS CITY COUNCIL & MAYOR

I know, where to begin on this one? So I will narrow down to three;

-We have no idea what is going on with the EC siding. Who will pay to fix it? Will it get fixed? Nothing. In fact every time they do release a little information about the project, they go back on the promises made.

-Ambulance service provider contract. This has been handled so poorly I think the whole process should be scrapped and start from the beginning. If you have a little free time before the meeting tonight to approve the contract I suggest googling some names involved with the selection committee, Paramedics Plus, Fitch, etc. etc. It is so insidious you would think we chose a Hueterrite colony to run our ambulance service.

-The indoor swimming pool cost overruns. Besides being lied to over and over again about the project, starting before the election, there are a ton of unsolved mysteries here. Has the VA given the city an MOU about using the park for indoor aquatics? How do we plan to pay the levee bonds back in a few years since we are using the Federal repayment for the ‘cash’? If I was a city councilor I would vote against the cost overrun based solely on the lack of transparency. Why vote for a budget that you have been lied to about?

As a citizen and a blogger I will continue to watch my local government, but with them all misbehaving, it is getting harder every day to keep up with the secrets and rumors.

UPDATE: If you were following the live tweets from Huether’s YPN luncheon today, he makes some interesting statements about people who question the transparency of the city (click to enlarge) he also talks about the Super Walmart that WILL be built on the Southside of town.

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